Photographers' Blog

A world without smiles

By Lunaé Parracho

The northeastern city of Salvador, Brazil’s third-largest, is a major tourist destination thanks to its beautiful beaches and popular festivals. Its Carnival is considered the world’s largest street party.

In spite of being idyllic in so many ways, this city suffers from an unprecedented explosion of violence in recent years, part of a national phenomenon with the migration of violence towards the north. While the murder rate has dropped more than 63% in the southeast in the past ten years, it has increased 86% in the northeast. That is according to the 2012 Map of Violence compiled by the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies.

GALLERY: FAVELAS IN ARMS

In Salvador, the murder rate has risen over 250%.

One of the police officers I spoke to summed up the situation clearly with his own personal tragedy. “We’re living in the middle of a war. I try not to leave home, and  when I do I’m armed,” he said, asking to remain anonymous. He knows what it’s all about – his son was killed recently by a thief to steal his iPad. Just a teenager, he died as he was returning from school on the street near their home in an upscale neighborhood.

Across the city in the Fazenda Coutos slum, Lucia Menezes, 53, avoids going out too. “I only leave home to go to church,” she told me. Lucia also lost her son Ebert, 24, shot by police in their neighborhood on the city’s outskirts. The police allege that their patrol was shot at by five men, and that Ebert was hit during the firefight. Neighbors and family say that Herbert was not a criminal and was unarmed, and that he was shot in the back of the head.

Heartbroken, Lucia said she fears the police and therefore will not pursue punishment for her son’s killers. “God will be the one to judge this, because Jesus has eyes of fire.” She would still like to see the results of a real investigation only to have her son’s name cleared. “He was not a bandit,” she said.

In the shadow of Mexico’s guns

Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

Days before last Christmas, city authorities initiated a program of voluntary disarmament for citizens encouraging them to swap their pistols, revolvers, guns and the occasional 60mm mortar round for bicycles, tablets or cash. Thousands flocked to the swapping stations set up in different neighborhoods by the police and military.

Some weapons were destroyed on site but I wondered where the rest of the collected weapons would land. So, I decided to issue a formal request to the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) asking if I could access their storage facilities to take pictures.

The military is in charge of storing and destroying weapons, not only those handed in by the civilian population sometimes including those inherited from an ancestor who might have fought in the revolution but also the weapons confiscated in the six-year-long, ongoing drug war that has so far killed some 70,000 people. Those are generally larger calibers than great-granddad’s Winchester Rifle from the early 1900s. They confiscated everything from custom-made, gold-plated Colt Super 38 Automatic to rocket-propelled grenade launchers and lots of Kalashnikov AK-47s, the narcos’ weapon of choice.

Ghost town of Superstorm Sandy

Breezy Point, New York

By Shannon Stapleton

Driving into the city I was listening to NPR talking about it being the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.

At first I couldn’t believe it had been six months already, and then I thought more about it and it seemed like years ago. The last time I was in Breezy Point and the Rockaways not much had changed.

The area of Breezy Point was still littered with fire and storm damaged homes throughout the seaside community. Arriving today the specific area that was ravaged by fire was completely different. The remains of homes had been taken away and the land flattened and filled with sand.

A second chance for women facing prison

Los Angeles, California

By Lucy Nicholson

Victoria Rios, 49, stood up in front of the crowd gathered in the court’s public gallery for her graduation. She listened as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan, 76, began her story. She had started drinking and smoking when she was eight-years-old. She began taking heroin when she was eleven. She was abused, and went through many abusive relationships. “Prisons become my permanent friend,” she said. “If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know where I’d be. In prison for life or dead,” she said as tears rolled down her face.

GALLERY: SECOND CHANCE FOR JAILED WOMEN

Judge Tynan walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug. “I could have retired 11 or 12 years ago, but I keep coming back because of people like her,” he said. Tynan has been running the Second Chance Women’s Re-entry Court program since 2007, with Public Defender Nancy Chand, who represents most of the women.

As California struggles with its crowded prison population, the court has pioneered an approach that aims to treat the underlying causes of many women’s crimes – drug addiction, sexual and physical abuse, and mental illness — most commonly post traumatic stress disorder. Around 66% of California prisoners have serious substance abuse problems, but only 2% participate in treatment in prison.

Photographing the darkness

Little Rock, Arkansas

By Gaia Squarci

I’ll never forget the day I first came in contact with blindness. It was a day in November 2011. A couple of months earlier, I had come to New York to pursue photography, shaping an identity largely based on what I see and the way I see it. Blindness was pure terror for a photographer like me – and it was also mysterious.

On that day, I walked into Visions, a center for the blind, and 10 minutes later I was sitting on an armchair with a weird hat on my head, posing for a picture in a photography class. I was totally confused but simultaneously my focus crystallized. I wanted to see — and photograph — what the sighted don’t imagine is still possible for the blind.

Dale Layne, 31, was one of the blind photographers in that class. Dale is from Guyana and is talkative and composed. Since, he’s become a friend and a point of reference when I try to explore perceptions of space and time, identity, culture, memory and love, as heavily altered by the lack of vision.

Backstage is where the fashion is

Karachi, Pakistan

By Insiya Syed

A few days after I photographed my second Fashion Week story in Karachi over the course of a month, a friend of mine asked me a legitimate question: “Why do these organizers call it “week” when it’s never a week? Why not just call it a month then? Or a millennium? Pakistan Fashion Millennium! That sounds so nice.”

Each year, Pakistan has a few of these events: Pakistan Fashion Week, Karachi Fashion Week, Pakistan Fashion Design Council Fashion Week… And then there’s Bridal Couture Week, which I’ve now had the opportunity to cover two years in a row.

Every year, and with every fashion show, I face the same struggle to obtain full backstage access – my primary area of interest – and I find myself making the same promises to remain an unobtrusive photographer.

Catastrophic lessons in a quake zone

Ya’an, Sichuan province, China

By Jason Lee

It was 8:02 am on April 20th, 2013, three weeks before the fifth anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake which killed nearly 70,000 people, when another strong quake hit the city of Ya’an in the same province. More than 190 people died, 21 others are still missing, and more than 11,000 people have been injured.

I must admit when I first heard about the disaster, I was a little reluctant to cover it, hoping that this time it wouldn’t be very serious. The catastrophic images from five years ago were still lingering in my head. However, when the death toll started to climb, I quickly cleared my thoughts and got on the next flight to the quake zone.

I don’t want to use too many words to describe how much I overcame to get there because my difficulties mean nothing compared to every victim’s face I saw and every cry I heard on the way.

In too deep

Fox Lake, Illinois

By Jim Young

Heavy rains brought flooding to the Chicago area this week. Though most people were already starting the clean-up process, there was still some flooding just north of the city.

I headed up to see how they were coping since the Fox River had yet to crest. As I pulled into town, most of the area looked fairly dry but once you got closer to the lake, some of the streets were several feet under water. As I came around a corner, I could see an American flag hanging over a half-sunken retro soda machine sitting in what looked like a lake, but it was actually someone’s backyard.

The family seemed unusually calm about their circumstances. Though they had been stuck in the same flooded state for four days with more rain on the way, they had several layers of sandbags around their house and a couple of pumps going at full speed. They were just trying to hang in there and hope for the best.

Going wider with our visual storytelling app

By Jassim Ahmad

We have just launched an update to The Wider Image app for iPad – an award-winning interactive experience showcasing visual insights by Reuters photographers. Thanks for your enthusiasm and feedback, which has helped drive these enhancements. Here is what’s new:

Share further
Our #1 reader request. You can now share stories and photographer profiles through Facebook and Twitter. Your friends and followers will be able to preview the story and read the full photographer profile, for example Lucas Jackson.

The share pages adapt to screen size, so they work across smartphones, tablets and desktops. When sharing stories on Twitter, your story tweets can expand to show the main image.

Only human: A photographic look at the Bush presidency

Washington D.C.

By Stelios Varias

In the eight years that George W. Bush served as the 43rd U.S. president, Reuters’ photographers were witness to big events and the daily grind that is full-time presidential coverage. Along the way, they amassed a collection of truly memorable images. As their longtime colleague and picture editor, it has been my pleasure to see their images come across the Reuters’ wire and land on the fronts of newspapers and online home pages.

With the Bush presidential center scheduled to be dedicated in Dallas on April 25, I’ve assembled a few of my favorites from our photographers.

President Bush will be most remembered for steering the United States through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, from the day he was told “America is under attack” by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, to when he stood on the crumpled remains of a fire truck at New York’s Ground Zero and told the country through a borrowed megaphone that the United States would respond.